Harlem Nights (1989)

“Wait, man, look. You shot, you lost. I mean, we’d have paid you if you’d won, but you lost. Now take your big ass home, and brush that tooth! ” – Sugar Ray

Number of Times Seen – 1 (17 Mar 2020)

Brief Synopsis – Owners of a underground casino in Harlem during the 1930s must deal with police corruption and problems with their competition.

My Take on it – In my quest to become more prolific in my Eddie Murphy film knowledge, I decided to see what this movie was all about.

I heard of it when it came out 31 years ago, yet never had much desire to want to know what it was all about besides the fact that it is a gangster film set in Harlem during the 1930’s.

Unfortunately, this is yet another really boring Eddie Murphy pseudo comedy that fails because it never manages to find the fine line between comedy and something more serious and instead tries to do both at the same time.

Many of the jokes fall flat and the serious or dramatic scenes are hard to believe because it gives off a humoristic aura to it all.

This film has an amazingly talented comedic cast yet none of them truly feel as if they are used properly.

They fail to develop any of them to a point whee we could care about them and this makes them all feel really wasted in these roles.

One would think that all you need to do to make a successful comedy is to have Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Red Foxx all work together.

This film proves that that kind of theory just isn’t right because they never manage to make these characters work in any fashion, comedic or not because the chemistry is completely lost along the way.

The story itself isn’t able to feel original enough at all and is much too reminiscent of many other gangster films except it is relocated to Harlem.

What’s really upsetting here is that this movie has so much more potential than realized and that probably hurts thing more than anything else.

Bottom Line – Another really boring Murphy film that fails because it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a comedy or be taken more seriously.  The cast is amazing yet they all feel wasted because the characters aren’t developed well enough. Murphy, Pryor and Foxx together should theoretically be a laugh a minute yet they never manage to be funny enough here. The story doesn’t feel original enough and instead is far too reminiscent of so many other films that try to do the same thing.  The film has so much more potential than is realized and that hurts things even more.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Eddie Murphy once said that the jokes and camaraderie between him, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Robin Harris, and Della Reese behind the scenes was much funnier than anything that was in the film. (From IMDB)

Rating – Razzie Worthy (3/10)


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2 thoughts on “Harlem Nights (1989)

  1. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Acting School 101 – April 2020 – Eddie Murphy

  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1989 | MovieRob

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